MPI warns seafood sold online is rising
The increasing amount of seafood sold illegally online is part of the growing trend of selling goods on social media, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) says.
New figures released by MPI on Wednesday showed that complaints about illegal seafood sales in the Canterbury and Westland area were at their highest level in three years, up from two in 2016 to eight for the year to date.
Nationally complaints had been increasing substantially year on year.
MPI had already received 164 complaints this year, up from 96 for all of last year, and 56 the year before.
MPI manager of compliance investigations Gary Orr said people who were selling seafood illegally understood it gave them ‘‘a platform to reach a lot more people’’ and ‘‘it reflects that a lot of transactions occur on social media’’, Orr said.
‘‘People see it as an opportunity.’’
There were two reasons for the increase in complaints; a more proactive public and opportunistic sellers, Orr said.
‘‘People are getting in behind [raising the issue]. It’s about sustainability and we are appreciative of it.
‘‘It is disappointing there is a sector of the community that uses seafood to exploit our fisheries.’’
For buyers, it was not just an illegal transaction that they could be fined for, it was also a health risk
‘‘If you are looking at a sack of mussels from the West Coast that has travelled in a hot boot before you buy them then you have to ask is it worth the risk? Probably not.’’
MPI’s decision on whether to fine or not depended on individual circumstances, Orr said.
MPI fisheries compliance manager
‘‘It is disappointing there is a sector of the community that uses seafood to exploit our fisheries.’’ MPI manager of compliance investigations Gary Orr
Greg Keys said it expected to see an increase in illegal activity as warmer weather set in.
Every incident reported was followed up, he said.
Selling on social media was ‘‘simply another vehicle that people use to illegally sell recreational catch’’.
Buying and selling recreationally caught seafood was against the law, Keys said.
Such offences against the Fisheries Act could result in fines up to $250,000.
Seafood sold illegally online is part of a growing trend of selling goods on social media.